Wauconda offense overwhelms Genoa-Kingston as Bulldogs claim E.C. Nichols title

Genoa-Kingston's Alec Golembiewski gets to the basket between two Wauconda defenders Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, during the championship game of the 71st Annual E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament at Marengo High School.

MARENGO — For the first time in almost a decade, Wauconda was able to lift the championship trophy at the E.C. Nichols tournament, rolling past Genoa-Kingston 88-55 on Thursday for the title.

“It’s great to go home with hardware,” Bulldogs coach Scott Luetschwager said. “2012 was the last time we won. It’s good to have this.”

The Bulldogs (10-2) jumped out of the gate hot behind a strong first quarter from Griffin Daun, who poured in eight of his 22 points in the opening quarter as Wauconda scored the first 10 points and led by as much as 25-7 in the first.

“Today was tough,” Genoa-Kingston coach Ethan Franklin said. “They’re one of the best teams we’ll play. They’ve got talent all over the board, size, and they were making tough shots. I don’t think we played horrible in that first bit, but those are runs that are hard to withstand.”

Daun added six rebounds and led five Bulldogs in double figures against the Cogs (9-3). He was 10 of 16 from the floor in the win.

“That’s how he plays,” Luetschwager said. “That’s a typical game for him. He just has a tendency to hang in the air for a while.”

Nicolas Brinas and Garrison Carter added 14 each for Wauconda while Justin Drobnik and Braeden Carlsen each poured in 13.

Luetschwager said the offense starts in transition for the Bulldogs, and Thursday was no exception.

“We just try to play our style and be who we are,” Luetschwager said. “We were able to get up and down, score in transition. The guys have been having a lot of fun. Ever since last Friday’s game against Barrington, they’ve been playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Cogs got as close as 12 in the second quarter after Chase Engel hit a pair of free throws, but trailed by 20 or more for all of the second half.

“We wanted to force them into taking tough, contested twos. And they made them,” Franklin said. “That was our issue.”

Jake Oates scored 17 to lead the Cogs while Alec Golembiewski added 14. Oates also had seven boards to lead Genoa while Draubnik, Carter and Carlsen also had seven each for Wauconda.

Even though the tournament ended with a lopsided loss in the title game, Franklin said a quarterfinal win over Sycamore and a semifinal win over Big Northern Conference foe Rockford Christian has the Cogs primed for a second-half run.

“Anytime you get three out of four wins it’s a success,” Franklin said. “The week for sure was a success for us. Obviously you don’t want to have a result like that in the championship game, but three wins - one against a conference school and one against a rival like Sycamore, I thought our guys are starting to begin our ascent to being the team we should be.”

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